Take a Breath: Reduce Stress, Improve Posture & Performance in just 5min
Diaphragmatic breathing takes just 5 minutes to perform and can be done anywhere, and at any time. The benefits of this breathing technique include reducing anxiety and stress, improving your posture, as well as increased athletic ability. With the amount of time that most individuals spend sitting down, at a desk with day to day stresses, diaphragmatic breathing is something we can all benefit from.
Why is sitting for prolonged periods problematic?
Sitting for long periods of time poses a number of problems, not only because of lack of activity but also from a lumbo-pelvic perspective (your posture).
Our hips and lower back are important as they stabilise the ‘kinetic chain’ of our bodies from head to toe. Adopting a poor posture for hours on end can have our hips pulled into less than ideal positions, producing:
- Tight lower backs
- Weak hamstrings
- Underactive glutes
What you can do at home to improve these issues: Diaphragmatic Breathing
Imagine your trunk column is an empty water bottle – iIf you blow air into that bottle and shut the lid, you can move that bottle around with ease and it will maintain its shape and posture. But what happens when you take the lid off the bottle and begin applying external force and pressure? It squishes up and becomes much more vulnerable to external forces.
Learning to breathe: Intra-Abdominal Pressure
To ensure our core doesn’t suffer from a similar fate as the frail and malleable plastic bottle, we need to learn to breathe properly by using our diaphragm. The diaphragm is a dome-shaped muscle which sits below your heart and lungs. When it contracts, it creates a vacuum pulling air into your lungs. When you exhale, the diaphragm relaxes and pushes air out of the lungs. When we think about breathing, imagine your abdominal cavity is a balloon, where you can increase the volume of air in it if you force air into it (inspiration of air).
The ability to breathe effectively and properly should not be underestimated for helping with your posture, mental health, and athletic performance. Here are a few steps in learning how to train your breathing abilities at home:
- Lay yourself flat on your back. Keep your knees bent, feet on the floor and make sure you have a straight passage for air to flow. Take a moment and relax.
- Place your hand on your belly. Imagine you want to fill it with air rather than your chest. Breathe in through your nose as deeply and slowly as you can for 5 seconds.
- Exhale slowly through your nose for 5-10s. Try to empty your lungs as much as possible. Think about pulling your belly button down to the floor so there is no space between your lumbar spine and the floor. This downward pressure is your diaphragm pulling your rib cage down.
- Maintain this brace and lift one hand off the floor, then one leg off the floor, then both hands or both legs.
- Keep a steady and controlled breathing tempo. Count slowly 1-2-3-4-5 or thinking in your head a sentence like “I am breathing in. I am breathing out.”
Spend the next 7 days practicing this just 5mins per day to make it a habit. You can do this while you are waiting for a computer file to load, the elevator to arrive, or when you first wake up in the morning. Not only will it give you time to relax and block out external stressors, it will train your trunk to support your hips and ensure you alleviate the long hours of being sat down or inactive.
The best athletes in the world practice their breathing patterns on a daily basis, and we can all benefit from learning how to breathe properly and ground ourselves. We encourage all our clients to practice this breathwork routine. Take a moment to step back and relearn one of the most overlooked processes that has an enormous impact on your posture, recovery and overall well-being.
If you are interested in learning more about mobility and diaphragmatic breathing, we are available for online/virtual consultations as well as in-person consultations. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Article by: Gabriel Carrol, Hybrid Personal Training, MMA & Fitness